Monday, January 12, 2009


House Leaders Speak on Budget Challenges

House Speaker Armond Budish, a democrat from Beachwood, and House Minority Leader William Batchelder, a republican from Medina, spoke at City Club in Cleveland on Friday about the economy and the upcoming biennial budget.

Both made gestures to meet the challenge by putting partisanship aside. Rep. Budish described how he named the House clerk from the majority party and a deputy clerk from the minority party. Rep. Batchelder proposed a nonpartisan independent legislative budget office.

To balance the budget, Rep. Batchelder suggested that Ohio trim its budget through government efficiency, and rejected tax increases and gambling as revenue options. Rep. Budish expressed the need to be creative to increase revenues, including the possibility of gambling. Both talked about using taxes to strengthen the economy. Rep. Budish suggested business incentives, and Rep. Batchelder suggested decreasing income and inheritance taxes. Both stated that an increase in the federal government’s share of Medicaid is vital.

One of the things I found particularly interesting during the comments at the City Club was that both Batchelder and Budish emphasized the need for "creative" solutions to what they recognize as a long term problem. Ironically, one of those solutions, mentioned by both, is tax credits. Meant to spur economic growth in the long term and make Ohio more "competitive", in the short term additional credits would reduce revenues - actually making the budget deficit worse. At some point, legislators are going to have to re-think that logic and balance the desire for future improvements with the need for solutions to our state’s immediate problems.
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